Richard Armitage as…. Ophelia??

This is a conversation I would love to have with Richard Armitage. He has recently made two comments in video interviews that I find intriguing. Intriguing because I really don’t know the answers to the questions raised. The first is on his performance of the original audiobook of Hamlet Prince of Danes by A.J. Hartley and David Hewson.

Audible-05 (1)cheeky smile

In the video interview posted by Audible, Mr. Armitage says about the audiobook that “you really have much more insight into their motivations, it’s much more gray and realistic, and particularly with Ophelia in this, in this story. I seem to relate to her. I think the fact that, you know, what has motivated her suicide in this story, is much more complicated and it actually turns out that it isn’t a suicide at all.” (Thanks to for the transcription.)

He particularly related to Ophelia? I wonder why? In the audiobook, Ophelia is Hamlet’s lover, as is implied in the Shakespeare play. She is bound by her dependence on her family, so when her brother and father tell her to leave Hamlet alone, she feels she must. In the audiobook Hamlet angrily accuses her of being more faithful to her family than to him. Ophelia then bucks up her courage and devises a scheme where possibly she & Hamlet can be together in the future. It doesn’t work out, of course, and she falls victim to a ruthlessly evil ally of her father & King Claudius. Brave, naive, beautiful Ophelia. Why does Mr. Armitage relate particularly to her? He says that what motivated her suicide, which was not a suicide, in much more complicated. I would love to hear of his thoughts about her.

In the Shakespeare play Ophelia appears to have lost her mind when she visits the Queen and sings of maids losing their virginity and how someone, presumably her father, is dead and gone. Leaving the impression that losing both Hamlet and her father has unhinged her mind. Next we hear, she is drowned.

Of course, in the audiobook although she drowns there as well, she has most certainly not lost her mind. She is still hoping for her and Hamlet to be reunited, with him as King and she as Queen. Alas, it was not to be, as craftier minds uncover her plan and get rid of her.

In the second interview, for the upcoming production of The Crucible at The Old Vic Theater, Mr. Armitage speaks about his enthusiasm for playing the part of John Proctor, a part that “was one of those roles that I’d always coveted and, and knew that I’d eventually play one day, and knew that by playing him I’d be changed as a person.” (Again, thanks to for transcription.) Another subject I would like to discuss with Mr. A. What does he expect will be changed in him by playing the role of John Procter?

This put me in mind of a recent interview with Richard’s colleague from The Hobbit, Lee Pace, who has a new television program beginning in the U.S. on Sunday, Halt & Catch Fire. Mr. Pace has been giving many interviews to promote the new show, and one of them that I read had a similarly ambiguous insight into his identification with his roles as that expressed by Richard Armitage.

In interview with Buzzfeed, Mr. Pace said that the role he has played that he most related to was his role as a transvestite in the movie The Soldier’s Girl.

Lee Pace Soldiers Girl

We know Mr. Pace is not a transvestite, so what is it that he feels he most relates to? He doesn’t say in the interview, just seems embarrassed that he has revealed so much about himself in the statement. I have no idea what exactly he revealed, since I don’t know enough about him. By the way, he is AMAZING in the role, and if you haven’t seen it, you should.

What interests me in these interviews is the way these two extremely talented actors, speak about how they find themselves revealed in the characters they play. That, while they may have been oblivious to it previously, when they play a certain role an aspect of who THEY ARE inside as a person is revealed to them.  It seems a part of the work they do that they find aspects of themselves in the characters they play. They take their work very seriously. By opening themselves up to the character they are playing they acknowledge that they too have similar emotions, and find that some of their experiences are similar to what the character has experienced. I love them for their honesty in expressing this, even if I don’t really understand what it all means.





From New York City. Anglophile, theater-goer, love books, music and LIFE.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Richard Armitage as…. Ophelia??

  1. kelbel75 says:

    it surprises me that you have not run into this before, when actors say they find a piece of themselves in the characters they play. that seems to me like that would be the foundation to portraying any character well, to try to understand them; and to do that you would have to find something, no matter how small, that is relatable and then build off of that. I imagine you learn a lot about yourself after playing certain characters b/c you are *becoming* them, for a certain amount of time. I’ve always been drawn to this “method” type of acting; I’m sure other actors are able to do it in a more detached way, but I’m not interested in them 😛

  2. fedoralady says:

    I was watching something on TCM the other day with an old promo piece for the film “Cannery Row” running between features, and in it Nick Nolte said something very similar about reaching inside and finding that part of himself that could relate to the character he was playing.I think it is a pretty common approach for actors, for a lot of the good ones, anyway. I think just as actors learn skill sets from playing different roles–sword fighting, horseback riding, playing a musical instrument, and so forth– they also gain glimpses into their own psyches along the way as part of the process of preparing for and performing as that character. You teach, you learn; you act, you learn. 😀 I am planning to watch Lee’s new show–I haven’t seen any of the interviews, but I have seen the commercials on satellite and it looks intriguing.

    • Marie Astra says:

      Yes you are right. I think most good actors start with themselves to prepare a role. I just watched Lee’s new show. I’m not in love with it, but it’s interesting. I will like to see what he does with the character. Meanwhile, he’s looking good! 😀

  3. kathryngaul says:

    Oh, you ladies are making me jealous…… I hope, if we get this show in Australia, that it’s not on payTV as I don’t have that….so costly here and impossible when I have only my Social Security Disability Pension on which to live. Fortunately we still get quite a few good British shows free-to-air but not too many from the US these days. My son has payTV but I’d have to visit his house just to watch the replay… my darling grandbabies (girl 6 and boy almost 5) wouldn’t like that very much as I’m supposed to be there to play with them LOL They get impatient with their father and me if we talk together for more than 5 minutes at a time!!

    Lee looks very beautiful as a girl! Did you see Sean Bean in “Accused” where he played a transvestite? He played the part extremely well but he wasn’t pretty like Lee LOL

    • Marie Astra says:

      Oh you are so lucky to have grandbabies! Of course you have to play with them! That’s what Grannies are for!

      I didn’t see Accused but saw the pics. Yes, not, um. beautiful, but good for Sean! He looked better than Gerard Depardieu did when he did the transvestite role. LOL!

      Lee was surprisingly beautiful, and he was truly transformed playing that role.

  4. kathryngaul says:

    PS. I love the audiobook of course and would also like to here more from Richard about identifying with Ophelia, too. He does women’s voices so beautifully

    • Marie Astra says:

      He does! I’ve been listening to Alan Cumming doing Macbeth and he differentiates the women, but not to the degree RIchard does. Not so many women in Macbeth, of course. 😀

      • kathryngaul says:

        Yes, I’m listening to Macbeth, too. I’ve only recently bought it .. although it was in my Audible wish list for quite a while! Yes, Alan’s good but Richard….

        Alan was very good in the British mini-series “The Runaway”… where he played a transvestite! LOL

      • Marie Astra says:

        Haven’t seen The Runaway. Recently saw him in Cabaret. Quite different from Macbeth! 😀

  5. kathryngaul says:

    whoops… typo alert “hear”. In too much of a rush as usual

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s